A pile of books sat on the lake house floor. When I took a minute to read the titles I discovered a copy of children’s stories published in 1956. On one of the pages is Gelett Burgess’ The Purple Cow, a poem about blending in or about the value of being a spectator. It really is in the mind of the reader to decide, but in my opinion there is hidden value in both.
Today, here in 2020, we all want to be somebody. Everyone is craving to stand out and be heard. When Seth Godin wrote Purple Cow as an inspirational book for marketing companies, he set the theory into motion that you need to stand out from the herd. He brilliantly calls marketing agencies to be a purple cow.
This seems to work excellently for a marketing firm selling a product, right? But it seems to fail when individuals try to build their personal brand. The huge field of independently branded humans trying desperately to be Godin’s version of a purple cow seems excessive.
What about the value in Burgess’ purple cow?
We are people, not products. Maybe that is the underlying thought that bubbled up when I read Burgess’ words, which happens to be categorized as nonsense verses. They just reminded me that seeing a purple cow is as equally valuable as being the purple cow, but we but more emphasis on living the stand-out kind of existence. It is really kind of exhausting. People are not corporations, so the idea to be your own brand just falls to pieces. Therein rests the value of Burgess’ nonsense verse.
Would you rather be the purple cow or see one?